Creating makerspaces: building capacity in people


I’m trying to save the world by working with a bunch of creative, resourceful, hard-working students at Wilfrid Laurier University. We invented the Laurier Library Makerspace here in Waterloo, Ontario. We teach everything from sewing to circuit board design to 3D printing and we just wrapped up a very successful third academic semester.

This is an introduction to a series of posts describing the journey ranging from the practical elements to the strategic vision. I’ll be graduating from this effort at the end of the summer and I’m seeking new opportunities to help organizations drive experiential learning.


What’s a makerspace?

Simply, a place to make stuff with your hands. A deeper look reveals less focus on a physical space and more of a common ethos of creating and supporting others creating. Learn/make/teach. I’ve gently guided Do-It-Yourself (DIY) toward Do-It-With-Others (DIWO). Beyond pure skill development, the makerspace offers a common ground to shape the community in which we want to live.

Foundation: the latitude to invent, change and adapt

I have been afforded a wide latitude to invent this makerspace with our students by University Librarian Gohar Ashoughian. It was her vision of the library as the cultural commons on campus that brought me to Laurier. I developed the strategy and plan to bring the makerspace to life.

Results: universally positive

We’ve delivered more than 180 workshops, connecting with hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members. We have taught everything from sewing, soldering, photography, 3D design and printing, electronics, coding, die-cutting, printed circuit board design, block cut printing, knitting and more. More importantly, we’ve encouraged and supported our learners to take ownership in building this makerspace. I’ve piloted makerspace integration with three Laurier courses and have a growing list of faculty who are keen to integrate our hands-on components into their programs. Our impact extends beyond campus. We have taught skill-building workshops in the broader Waterloo Region community.

In future posts, I’ll share fields notes from my work. You are invited to:

  • Maker Mondays – a weekly 1pm-4:30pm drop-in time to visit the Laurier Library Makerspace
  • Connect with me, Darin White, on LinkedIn

Next article in the “Creating Makerspaces” series: From learners to teachers


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